Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte insisted Friday he had not intended to insult US leader Barack Obama, but immediately took aim at another global figure by labelling UN chief Ban Ki-moon a “fool”.
Duterte sparked a storm on the eve of an Asian summit this week by labelling Obama a “son of a whore”, prompting the US president to cancel a planned meeting. The pair met briefly later at the gathering in Laos after Duterte expressed regret.
But acid-tongued Duterte on Friday said the Philippine expression “putangina” should not be taken at face value, and it was “an ordinary expression (used) by everyone”.
“It’s son of a bitch or son of a gun. It’s not son of a whore,” he told an audience of Filipinos during a visit to the Indonesian capital Jakarta.
He insisted his remarks were not directed at Obama but at the US State Department, which has raised concerns over potential human rights violations in Duterte’s anti-crime campaign which has left almost 3,000 dead in just over two months.
“I got really angry about these threats over this human rights issue. This is the fault of the crazy people in the State Department,” he said.
Duterte said he had clarified his comments to Obama when they met.